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Reentrant and focal mechanisms underlying ventricular tachycardia in the human heart.

Originally published 1992;86:1872–1887


    To determine the mechanisms of ventricular tachycardia (VT) in humans, three-dimensional intraoperative mapping of up to 156 intramural sites was performed in 13 patients with healed myocardial infarction and refractory VT.


    Mapping was of sufficient density to define the mechanism of 10 VTs in eight patients. In five of 10 cases, sustained VT was initiated in the subendocardium or epicardium by intramural reentry with marked conduction delay as well as functional and anatomic block most prominent in the subendocardium and midmyocardium. The initiating beats of reentrant VT induced by programmed electrical stimulation arose in the endocardium or midmyocardium by progressive slowing of conduction leading to unidirectional block. Multiple simultaneous reentrant circuits can be present. In contrast, five of the 10 sustained VTs were initiated by a focal mechanism as defined by the absence of electrical activity between the termination of one beat and the initiation of the next despite the presence of multiple intervening intramural electrode recording sites. Comparisons of the mapping data with results of histopathological analysis of tissue demonstrated that the location of infarction as well as that of adjacent fibrotic muscle determined sites of both fixed and functional conduction block during macroreentrant VT and that slowing of conduction occurred in a direction transverse rather than longitudinal to fiber orientation.


    Both intramural reentry and a focal mechanism underlie sustained VT in patients with healed myocardial infarction.